Get to know the desolate town of Chernobyl and the ghost city of Pripyat as well as their history from the days prior to the nuclear accident.
Completion Time: 16 hours 44 minutes (2:22 + 2:21 + 1:18 + 1:59 + 2:37 + 1:47 + 4:22)
Date Played: 24th March – 6th May 2021
Party Size: 3 – 9
Recommended For: Hardcore puzzlers and folks who want a “wow what was that” experience over multiple days
The only way I can start this review for Chernobyl: A Puzzle Septology is with a meme. So here you go!
Literally, whenever anyone says the word “Chernobyl” to me:
It’s true! Chernobyl: A Puzzle Septology is not for the faint of heart. It requires a lot of brain power and even more stamina to get through the long hours required of it. But it’s also one of the most rewarding escape room experiences I’ve had to date and I’m super grateful to the amazing ESCAPE THE ROOMers team for hosting me for 7 awesome livestream weeks as we tackled this huge feat together.
Chernobyl: A Puzzle Septology is a puzzle hunt style game that is played over seven chapters (and one bonus chapter) in Google Earth. Each chapter is broken up into smaller (mostly standalone) puzzles and the solutions for which are always found somewhere within the area of Pripyat!
Since each chapter is fairly different from each other, I’ve decided to break up this review by talking about each chapter separately, and making note of a few details and what to expect about each one. In some chapters there are 7 puzzles, in others there are tonnes of ‘bonus’ puzzles (which end up being harder than the regular puzzles), in others there is just one puzzle, and so on. It’s a different experience each time! Expect the unexpected!
- As of the 8th of May the creator has created a ‘light’ version of the game for those who just want a taster! It contains the best puzzles from each chapter and should only take about 1 hour each.
- Some of the proceeds for the game are donated to Chernobyl Children International who give support to children and families living in the aftermath.
Chernobyl A Puzzle Septology Hints / Answers
You’ll find all of the livestreams embedded in this article below and, as there are no hints available online, if you’re ever completely stuck you may be able to find the answer in one of our livestreams. Or you can contact me over on Instagram or Twitter and I’ll do my best to help. Just don’t ask me what ropey fruit is.
Here are some other hints I’d recommend keeping in mind as you play the game:
- Every design choice is on purpose! The creator has chosen a specific font, text, border, colour etc. on purpose! Don’t forget that as you look for clues in the environment.
- Google Earth won’t load unless you’re actually on that tab haha. Feel free to split screen. I played most of this game over two screens / split screen and it helps!
- You need to also use the clue and the environment. I think that no clue on it’s own can be solved without first finding the corresponding area in Google Earth.
- No idea is too outlandish. Especially if you’re playing in a team, just say whatever pops into your head. It might spark an idea.
- Have fun! It’s a hard game but you’ll get through it with an awesome team 😀
Chapter 1: Core Galore
Core Galore is the first chapter in the series and gives a really cool introduction both to the experience and to Chernobyl as a whole! At just under 2.5 hours, it’s about ‘average’ difficulty compared to all the other chapters in the series and therefore sets you up for success if you can complete this without too much stress!
There are 7 parts and no bonus puzzles and I really enjoyed them – especially (no surprises here) the ones where I got to copy and paste images into Microsoft Paint and do some drawing on them! ART! YAY! I played this chapter with Cici (ETROOMers) and Thomas (Escape Stations) and we had a lot of amazing people in the audience tune in to watch us *coughcough* I mean help us out too!
As with all the puzzles in this game, it’s important to pay a lot of attention to every detail in the ‘clue’ given, as any colour, font or design choice is likely on purpose and therefore central to solving the puzzle.
The best part is, this chapter takes you around the nuclear core of the power plant itself and with every successfully solved puzzle, you get some trivia to read! *ahem ahem*
Chapter 2: Geiger Says
Chapter 2: Geiger is high up on my ‘frustrating’ scale, but namely because we absolutely whizzed through the main seven puzzles in under an hour, only to be tripped up by the bonus puzzles. These bonuses are worth a lot less, and I believe there’s no obligation to finish them. But not for our intrepid band of puzzles (Cici and Tammy)! Leave no puzzle unsolved!
In this chapter, we got to explore some of the surrounding area of Pripyat, including a swimming pool, a secondary school, a couple of museums, and the New Safe Confinement structure too! All of which, eerily NOT abandoned. Some of it felt quite new – kinda cool!
The puzzles were a lot of fun too! Yes, yes, even the bonus ones. As you played the ‘main’ puzzles you must to look out along the way for those bonus solutions. One such example was a rusted chair we spotted in one of the bonus puzzles, although actually solving it took an extremely long time, we kept returning to it puzzle after puzzle to give it a go. Another example was ropey fruit… Wait! I wasn’t going to talk about that. *flashbacks intensify*
Chapter 3: Natura
Chapter 3: Natura is one of the ‘easiest’ chapters in the series and took our team of three including Nick (Kent Escape Room Reviews) a mere 1 hour and 14 minutes! Woah! This chapter consists of 6 puzzles and 1 bonus puzzle. It felt like a nice ‘break’ week from the struggle of the previous chapters.
This chapter largely takes place outdoors, with some absolutely gorgeous sweeping drone shots of the Chernobyl area. One thing I didn’t realise is how green the nuclear area is. As the trivia explained: even if the nuclear fallout causes local wildlife to have much shorter lifespans, the absence of humans allows everything green to grow and flourish!
Whilst nothing was too challenging, I particularly enjoyed the final puzzle in the series – arguably the hardest one. It’s titled “The Maze” and was a several step puzzle with a cryptic clue at it’s very heart. After scouring minute details on each tiny crack in the ground and each tourist standing around, the actual solution was so much easier than we thought. But again, a huge shout out to the lovely community who tuned in to watch us for all their help!
Chapter 4: Clickety Click
Chapter 4: Clickety Click took us back indoors! Specifically, back to the school area which provided a lot of fun puzzles spanning a bunch of ‘topics’ you might expect to study at school. Oops! I should have paid more attention at school, huh? We were joined by the immensely smart (and fellow blue haired person) Rich Bragg who is one of the founders of TERPECA, and Clue Keeper app.
This setting provided some really cool locations for puzzles – 7 of them, to be exact and absolutely no bonus puzzles to be seen! *distant cheering* In particular I loved the puzzle which had us examine lockers to decode an hour, minute and second time. In particular I did not enjoy a puzzle which made a surprise appearance in Chapter 7 and involved maths… But not just any old maths, graphs and charts and algebra and 3D modelling. All those things I tried to forget when I left Architecture school to pursue another career!
Chapter 5: Obscura
Chapter 5: Obscura was one of the strangest chapters to me, and possibly the one I enjoyed the least. It was pretty tricky, and (apart from the final chapter, 7) it was the one that took us the longest! That said, for this team we were joined by the absolute power house puzzle solver, Michael Augustine. To name just a few of his amazing achievements: He won the Red Bull “Mindgamers Quantum Challenge” and Idea Lab: “Memory Challenge”. He and his team “Slackers United” placed 10th in “Red Bull’s Escape Room World Championship”. Last year, he and his team “Unite Discord” placed 3rd in ERChamp’s “2020 Escape Room Championship”. *swoons in puzzle language*
Obscura contained only 6 puzzles this time round with no bonus puzzles. So it should be straightforward? Ahh, not really. We struggled! In particular, one puzzle involved some complicated maths that, no matter how many variations on the formula I tried, I couldn’t seem to get the answer correct. Another involved zooming out really far on a map… Except it didn’t, and I definitely wasted most of our time doing the wrong thing.
But again, however hard, it was still satisfying to finish and so close to the end… We were determined!
Chapter 6: Le Vitrage
Girl power FTW! For Chapter 6 we were back with an all-female team and joined by the amazing puzzle champion, Anna from Blue Fish Games and co-creator of two of my favourite play at home experiences: The Curious Elevator and The Curious Staircase of Mr. Hincks. We were also in for a treat, another ‘easy-ish’ game in the series. Or at least, it took us the second least amount of time to complete. In hindsight, the creators were just giving us a break before the beast that was Chapter 7 *nervous sweating*
Chapter 6: Obscura consists only of one puzzle, named “The Four Parts”. You’ll never guess why.
Of these four parts, you remain in the same one space – the Cafe Pripyat on the shoreline of a vast lake and sporting a really beautiful stain glass window! Pretty cool how so many different puzzles can be creators from just one small area, but there was so much to go on with the bright colours and artwork all around!
Each part of the puzzle was connected to the others, which was confusing, but once we figured out we had to tackle them in order, taking only a small bit of information from the other four, we quickly cracked the case and whizzed through the series.
Chapter 7: Higher Dosage
Each week I played the Chernobyl: A Puzzle Septology, I wrote down some notes at the end of each week: “Liked this, didn’t like this, the location was ace…” and so on. My notes on Chapter 7 were just one word:
Ok, so we started at 8pm UK time and ended at 1am and if you know me I crash at about 10pm. I’ve even been at parties and decided to go take a nap at this time because it’s “bed time”, so I’m fairly sure I didn’t contribute much, or understand what the heck was going on past about 11pm… But it’s a good job we had the ultimate Puzzle Avengers Team on our side (or PAT) for short, for this epic 4-5 hour stream! All the previous players joined us as well as Lee Ballan (creator of The Pyramid), and Jamie (Armchair Escapist). A truly formidable team and incredible group of people I’m so stoked to have met and hung out with these past Thursdays!
The puzzles ranged from “this is really hard” to “impossible”, yet somehow we were always able to figure it out! And of course, my favourite! Plenty of chance to whip out Microsoft Paint and draw on things in the environment too. I LOVE DRAWING.
There’s one more ‘stage’ to mention, and this is the top secret bonus puzzle. I won’t say much about it, except that you should definitely leave an additional hour at least to finish it! I also can’t say much about it because it was 1am and by the time we got to it I was halfway to the land of ZZzzzzzz.
Nonetheless, I’m proud of us! My teammates, my wonderful host Cici, and the creators for making such an incredible, immense puzzle experience.
Chernobyl: A Puzzle Septology can be purchased for $60 USD for a team of 5 on Wild Child’s website.
Mairi is the editor-in-chief of The Escape Roomer and writes about news, and reviews covering London and UK south.